Hand that feeds: Petra Petrikova feeds about 50 dogs almost daily Image Credit: AHMED RAMZAN/xpress

Dubai A Dubai flight attendant, recognised by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) for rescuing homeless dogs, is aiming to set up Umm Al Quwain’s first dog shelter.

Petra Petrikova has identified a nine-bedroom villa in the emirate for this purpose. “It’s annual rent is Dh60,000. We have made a down payment of Dh6,000 to secure the place but we need to arrange Dh20,000 by month end towards the first rent cheque,” she said.

The Slovak’s passion for rescuing homeless animals began in 2010 when she heard about some abandoned puppies in Umm Al Quwain’s. “A big group of hungry dogs showed up when I went there with food and water. I was moved by their plight,” said Petrikova.

“Since then I have been visiting the place almost daily,” she added.

Awareness drive

In the last four years, Petrikova has relocated at least 60 dogs and feeds almost as many others daily. Her Facebook page, SOS Emirates Dogs which has over 2,000 likes, is one of the ways she spreads awareness about abandoned dogs.

“I often head there [to the Barracuda area] from the airport to feed the dogs. Now I have two volunteers in UAQ who help me.”

Petra said that an abandoned dog - Mama – whom she rescued from the Barracuda resort area has now found a new home in the Czech Republic. “For over a year, I was feeding some dogs and Mama was one of them. She lived there with other dogs, all of whom later died. I rescued Mama and found her a new home.”

She said lack of awareness has left many abandoned and stricken dogs with little or no hope of survival. “A few months ago, a pure-bred Saluki, Asmak, hit with over 50 pellets, died after surgery. Another malnourished puppy rescued from an empty villa in UAQ also died on way to the vet.”

Acknowledging Petrikova’s efforts, WSPA has written to UAQ authorities and requested a meeting to find ‘humane solutions’ for stray animals.

WSPA is already working with authorities in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Ras Al Khaimah.

Alistair Findlay, Middle East Programmes Manager for WSPA said the organisation aims to improve the lives of animals across the UAE and Middle East. “To do this, we have formed successful partnerships with national and local governments over the past ten years where we have delivered training on humane solutions to manage stray dogs and feral cats.

“We have sent a letter to the UAQ government via the animal welfare group SOS for Emirates Dogs and hope to deliver a plan of action that will benefit stray animals in the emirate.”